County Council Considers Changes To DRRA Ordinance

A hearing was held Tuesday on amendments to the law.


Frederick, Md (KM) Legislation that would change the way development rights and responsibilities agreements are drafted in Frederick County was the topic of a public hearing Tuesday night. DRRA’s  are agreements  negotiated between the county and residential developers. It gives the developers some certainty when it comes to fees and other items while homes are under construction. In return, the county would get some enhanced benefit.

The changes to the ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Steve McKay,  would limit DRRA’s to residential developments of 1500 homes or more; define and require enhanced  public benefits, such as road improvements, schools or libraries; specify the laws and fees that apply to land developed under a DRRA; limit the term of DRRA’s to no more than five years, with a possible five-year extension; and specify items to consider during an amendment process.

Janice Spiegel, the County Education Liaison, spoke Tuesday on behalf of the County Executive. She noted that a number of DRRA’s negotiated by the last Board of County Commissioners were up to 20-years long. “DRRA’s, as created in state law, were never intended to guarantee or freeze all conditions and applicable laws for 25 to 30 years years or longer,” she said. “This ties the hands of future county councils, and limits their ability to adapt to changing conditions, or implement laws uniformly  to insure the health, safety and welfare of Frederick County citizens.”

Also speaking was Shirley McDonald with the League of Women Voters. She said these changes were recommended by the League a few years ago. “The League believes that the bill 1905 meets many of the issues we found with our study of DRRA’s  in 2014 by limiting the use to developments of 1500 or more dwelling units, requiring enhanced public benefits, clarifying the laws and fees that apply, limiting the initial term to five years,” McDonald said.

The County Council is expected to take a vote on this legislation at a later date.


By Kevin McManus